Friday, November 20, 2015

Audience

I have a cold, but just wanted to jot this down before I forget it. It's an old question.

Back in the ye olde times before social media, smartphones, and more than a handful of television stations (aka the 80s), there was a horrible disease that was afflicting many gay men in major metropolitan areas.  Journalists at the time would say things like, "It hasn't infected the general population", which was a way to create fear while simultaneously assuaging it, I suppose. Fear of the other. As a young gay man, a high schooler in fact, it didn't occur to me to question who was speaking, only to internalize that I was not being spoken to and was not part of the general population. I don't think I could have articulated it at that moment, but certainly I was taking it in. Someone was being spoken to, and that person was speaking to someone about me, who was not me. I was still a virgin, but I knew. I was not part of the general population.

I was in my car today, and my usual news program featured a story about the college protests currently happening. What struck me was the tone of the news, which I catch now and again, that by its very nature separates reporter, and by extension the listener, from subject. I hear it a lot. It's a bias. I always wonder though, who is the audience? What's being assumed? Who are they talking to?  The subject is always separated and analyzed, but the assumption is somehow that the subject is not part of the "general population" in some way. But who is the audience?

Like I said, I have a cold, so not quite clear on an answer as of yet, but I'm interested in the question. Just who are they assuming they are talking to?

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